Basalt police feel the heat from O’Connor departure
Ryan Summerlin February 13, 2013
EAGLE, Colo. – Some members of the Basalt Police Department have taken heat over the departure of popular former chief Roderick O’Connor, according to exhibits introduced Tuesday in a court hearing.
Written statements by officers Phil Martin and Josh Bennett indicated that residents of Basalt verbally confronted them and accused Basalt Sgts. Penny Paxton and Stu Curry of making complaints that led to the investigation and eventual resignation of O’Connor.
“Many of the people said things like Penny and Stu set Roderick up and that the whole thing was bulls—,” Bennett said in his statement. “Many people would approach me asking what was going on and when I replied that I didn’t know, they would say things like how could you not know what was going on, you have a rat in the department.”
Bennett said people appeared to be angry over O’Connor’s resignation, “especially the bar crowds.”
Martin said a wide range of people in Basalt have quizzed him about O’Connor departure. Most “let things go” when he told them he wasn’t aware of the details.
“However, those within the community that have been the most vocal have made offhand comments about both Sergeant Curry and Sergeant Paxton (having) everything to do with the suspension of former Chief O’Connor,” Martin wrote in his statement.
In late October or early November, the situation got a little scarier, according to Martin. An angry person called Town Hall demanding to know what was going on with O’Connor. He allegedly said that maybe he ought to come down to the government building and start shooting people, Martin wrote. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office was asked to investigate. Martin said he later learned the caller admitted being upset but said he never made threats.
During Tuesday’s court hearing, Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon was asked by Aspen Times attorney Thomas Kelley if Paxton and Curry were the officers who filed a complaint about O’Connor. Town Attorney Tom Smith objected before Scanlon could answer. The objection was sustained by Eagle County District Judge Mark Thompson. He said the hearing was being held to determine if exactly that type of information can be disclosed, so Scanlon didn’t have to answer.
No decision was made Tuesday on what information the town might have to disclose.